Friday, June 24, 2005

Islam's Threat to Freedom of Speech

Oriana Fallaci, an outspoken critic of Islam, has been indicted in Italy for “vilification” of a religion. We all know the cost of a legal defense is a punishment itself that few can endure. Others without the means will be silent in the face of the Islamic threat. The threat to freedom of speech is severe. Three years ago the eccentric French author (pardon the redundancy), faced similar charges but was eventually acquitted. A recent article notes:

Houellebecq’s acquittal was treated in the press as a victory for freedom of speech, particularly since the author himself did not back down. (“I have never shown the slightest contempt for Muslims,” he stated to the panel of judges, “but I have as much contempt as ever for Islam.”) Nonetheless, I suggested to Houellebecq, the fact that there was a trial at all was surely a much greater victory for the power of Muslim intimidation.

“Yes, I think so,” he agreed. “I think what I said will never be said again.”

Our laws still protect freedom of speech. However, our universities have established repressive environments where criticism of certain doctrines, demographic ethos, and foreign religions are treated as crimes. There is already a cultural taboo against criticism of Islam. We must exercise our free speech and defend it vigorously. No speech, on any subject, should be subject to prosecution because some deem it odious.